At the last circle in the city of Barmer, we stopped our car to ask for directions to the temples of Kiradu. The truck driver said “Challis kilometer aage ek gaon milega Hathma, police chowki se dane mur jana”. Hassan-ji, our driver, remarked “Kya naam hai Haathma, suntehi aapna antaratma kaamp uthte hain”. Mahuya said “pehele Baap, aur Chacha aab Hathma, kaise kaise naam hain”. My wife was referring to the name of two villages that we saw when we were traveling from Bikaner to Jaisalmer. But Hathma was a name that was Zara hatke.
We were travelling from Jaisalmer to Mount Abu. I was impressed by some of the reports about the temples of Kiradu and insisted Hassan-ji to take the diversion from Barmer. Needless to say, we were traveling a long distance on the 1st of October, and with lunchtime approaching we were eager to reach these temples quickly. The road condition was good, but as we had seen better roads we were hoping that there would not be any ghostly village on the way.
I was nervously looking at the km indicator as it indicated we had covered 30 km from Barmer. The landscape was scanty in vegetation and so was the road with almost no people or traffic. Suddenly we saw a guidepost proclaiming the Kiradu temples were 2 km to the right. Again the same empty roads greeted us I could swear and we had covered more than 2 km when we saw there was a diversion. The guide post said Mata Temple to the left. We thought the Kiradu temples would be straight, and we were wrong! Fortunately there were two villagers on the road, who guided us back to the right track. The Mata temple was on a hill while the Kiradu temple gate was closed. Honking outside the gate attracted the caretaker who sold us tickets and let us into the campus.
As we reached the temples we were awestruck. There is a lot of adjectives that we uttered before we grabbed our cameras and started shooting. Even Hasssan-ji was quickly taking snaps going round the temples. According to the stone inscriptions these temples were build about 920 years ago by Parmers of Marwar, serving feudal lords, the Chalukyas. One of the inscriptions talks about Kumarpal of Gujarat have given Kitatkupa, Latahara and Shiva to Alanadeva Chauhan of Nadol (1153 AD or 1209 V.S.). Another inscription talks about muslim invasion of Karatakup during the reign of Bhimdeva II of Chalukya dynasty(1178 AD) when Madan Bhrahmadeva was feudal ruler. Tejpal was the local administrator, and his wife re-made the idols which were destroyed by the turashkas. It is likely that Mohammad Ghori advanced from Multal to Gujarat in between 1175 AD and 1178 AD through Kiradu.
Again according to Kakka Suri, a jain monk, who wrote Nabhinandana Jinodhara Prabandha in 1338 AD, Kiradu was a famous Jain Tirtha and a flourishing center of trade art and religion. However being on the path of muslim invaders the town was probably plundered and no historical reference to this town are found after 14th century. The remnants of this town estimated to have more than 85 temples are only five temples, a steep well, fortification walls and archeological mounds. The Someshwara temple (build 1141 to 1152 AD) is the most magnificent. The other four temples were dedicated to Vishnu(1) and Shiva (3 more).
It would be futile to go on and describe the temples so I will add a few pictures and finish this tale here. I would only like to add one thing. All of a sudden we realized that more than 40 minutes have elapsed since we entered this place and neither the burning sun in the sky nor the sense of hunger in our stomach or our schedule would allow us to stay the whole day at Kiradu. So we turned our back to continue to Mount Abu. I would request the readers eager to know more about this place to go through the following references.